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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characterization of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) NAC transcription factors suggests conserved functions compared to both monocots and dicots

Michael W Christiansen, Preben B Holm and Per L Gregersen*

Author Affiliations

Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Research Centre Flakkebjerg, 4200 Slagelse, Denmark

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:302  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-302

Published: 19 August 2011



The NAC transcription factor family is involved in the regulation of traits in both monocots and dicots of high agronomic importance. Understanding the precise functions of the NAC genes can be of utmost importance for the improvement of cereal crop plants through plant breeding. For the cereal crop plant barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) only a few NAC genes have so far been investigated.


Through searches in publicly available barley sequence databases we have obtained a list of 48 barley NAC genes (HvNACs) with 43 of them representing full-length coding sequences. Phylogenetic comparisons to Brachypodium, rice, and Arabidopsis NAC proteins indicate that the barley NAC family includes members from all of the eight NAC subfamilies, although by comparison to these species a number of HvNACs still remains to be identified. Using qRT-PCR we investigated the expression profiles of 46 HvNACs across eight barley tissues (young flag leaf, senescing flag leaf, young ear, old ear, milk grain, late dough grain, roots, and developing stem) and two hormone treatments (abscisic acid and methyl jasmonate).


Comparisons of expression profiles of selected barley NAC genes with the published functions of closely related NAC genes from other plant species, including both monocots and dicots, suggest conserved functions in the areas of secondary cell wall biosynthesis, leaf senescence, root development, seed development, and hormone regulated stress responses.